Eithne Pentony, who may have been christened Eleanora, started to play golf as an eight year old at Sutton Golf Club where she would remain until her late teens before joining Hermitage Golf Club, the club with which she is most associated.
Eithne was in her early twenties when she won her first national championship at County Sligo Golf Club at Rosses Point beating Mrs J.H. Todd by 2 & 1. It was only her second attempt, the previous year she lost in the third round. At the time she was honorary secretary of the Hermitage Golf Club and a surprise winner, triumphing against the winds that raged over the Sligo links for the last two days of the Championship. As the Pentony family lived in Clontarf and her father was a member of Royal Dublin G.C. she was able to hone her game over the venerable links three days a week, in presumably all conditions.
In 1933, Miss Pentony took the title again by beating Mrs J.B. Walker in the third round, Miss Pim in the semi-finals and her clubmate Miss Fanny Blake in the final by 3 & 1. In the same year Miss Pentony also won the Danish Amateur and was a finalist in the Swedish Amateur Championships, both finals played against Fraulein Orrissen. Later she would tour South Africa with the British team and this would take her away from home for four and a half months during which she was made an honorary member of Maccauviel. However, the Captain’s report (Miss Doris Chambers) on her play during the tour wasn’t altogether complimentary despite the fact she only lost two matches, both on the final green. It was a cruelling tour that saw them engaged nearly everyday and playing twenty-five courses during the tour. Miss Chambers felt she had failed to adapt as quickly as the other team member but when asked about the tour on her return, Eithne said: “It was …a strenous trying time and I’m not sorry to be home again.” Her decision to play in the Swedish Amateur Championship came after an invitation from Mr. Ludwig Nobel, nephew of the prize doner, Alfred Nobel, to travel there as his guest for two weeks.
Eithne (Ina) Pentony, was the first Irish person selected for the GB&I Vagliano Trophy team in 1932, when the match was played in St. Germain; the matches alternated between the environs of London and Paris. Eithne won her foursomes match but wasn’t selected to play in the singles but her excitement at being selected was recorded by her later and published in the I.L.G.U.’s centenary book.
At Royal Portcawl in 1934 Eithne reached the semi-finals before being beaten by Helen Holm, the eventual winner by a margin of 4 & 3. In the second round she beat Diana Fishwick, the 1930 champion by 3 & 1, but her third round match went to the nineteenth. The fourth round pitted the two remaining Irish ladies with Miss Pentony getting the better of Miss Ellis on the final hole. Despite this Miss Pentony lost in her first round match with Mrs Patsy Jameson, the Island player by 4 & 3 in the Irish Ladies’ Championship, that year.
After the 1936 Irish Championship, where she reached the semi-finals before losing to Miss Sybil Moore at the nineteenth, her life was to change drastically after been diagnosed with tubercolosis and the prospect of a future in a sanatorium loomed. Fortunately she during the time of her illness. Eithne’s Cinderella story started with her recovery shortly before her admission date to the sanatorium and she married her beau, Dr. J.H. Michael Roberts whom she met during her period of convalescence, on the 31 January 1940 and spent the next forty-seven years happily married. Of her early golfing life she said:
“A long time ago when I was young. I had a wonderful and fairytale life for a few years, due entirely to the game of golf, which I managed to play well at the right time.”
It is extremely rare to get newsreel footage of players but the British Pathe newsreel site has footage of her win at Newcastle against Fanny Blake in 1933. To preview this footage click here and search for Eithne Pentony, this is available free for preview purposes only.
Eithne Pentony: 1931 and 1933 Irish Ladies' Champion